Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A whole lot of new stuff

Firstly, apologies for the lack of interesting posts - I have just started a new job & life is hectic. A few other things have happened too - my regular vegie delivery company Garden Organics has decided to stop their delivery service! I am very disappointed because the quality of their produce was so good, but I do understand that you can't continue to run a service that isn't commercially viable. So I have had to find a new supplier & after a lot of online research, I decided to try The Green Line again. Last time I used them I found them to be slightly less in quality & quantity.Here is my delivery this week - the quantity is definitely less - about 2/3 of what I was receiving. Quality seems OK though, we got:
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potato
  • Chard
  • Bok Choy
  • Baby spinach
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Capsicum
  • Cauliflower
With a fridge full of fresh veg, I sat down with one of my new favourite cookbooks - The Vegan Table - to find something that I could make for dinner. It presented so many options, but in the end I decided on Aloo Gobi (Curried Cauliflower & Potatoes). This was really delicious - so many lovely flavours from the spices & the little heat from the chilli was perfect. D approved too, so I know it must be a good recipe :-)Finally, look what turned up in the mail last week - the brand new edition of The Australian Veg Food Guide!
I love that it's now a national guide, not just Victoria, & also that there are so many new places for me try out. I also love the consistent icons to indicate vegan friendliness & the inclusion of cafes in a list even if there is no review - more choice is always better! Just a couple of minor things the editors could consider for the next edition:
  • A suburb index at the back. I was going to Ballarat the other day & I knew there was a veg restaurant there but couldn't remember the name. The only way to find it was to flick through the Victorian section until I found it. So an index would really help (this could also be the librarian in me talking).
  • Maybe a map like the Cheap Eats/Good Food guides use? That would be particularly useful if you were travelling to an unfamiliar area or even if you were just somewhere like Fitzroy with so many options - if one cafe was closed or too busy you could quickly look at the map to find another nearby.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Risoni Salad

The sunny weather yesterday inspired me to make a salad for lunch this week (I'm so sick of winter-style stews). Of course, lunch time today rolled around & it was pouring with rain, about 14 degrees & blowing a gale - perfect weather for a salad! Melbourne really does my head in sometimes :-)

Unfortunately the fridge was pretty bare, but I did manage to scrape together enough ingredients to make a fairly healthy salad. I really love risoni, but I know refined pasta isn't all that good for me, so I don't eat it all that often. This salad is really simple & completely adaptable. I would normally add more fresh vegetables like capsicum, peas or asparagus but since I forgot to put my vegetable delivery in last week I was really scraping the bottom of the vegetable crisper. The simple oil, lemon & seasoning dressing for this is really delicious. Risoni Salad
  • 1 cup risoni
  • 2 carrots, peeled & grated
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped finely
  • 3/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 400g can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS lemon juice
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper
Cook the risoni until tender (about 10 mins). Toss all the ingredients together & refrigerate before serving.

Continuing with D's birthday celebrations, we got takeaway for dinner last night - his all-time favourite meal - pizza. Now, we have some pretty nice pizza places in the West, but I've been disappointed to find that most of the 'gourmet' places add milk to their pizza bases. So, we usually just get Pizza Hut. It's cheap, veganisable & fast. One thing I don't like at Pizza Hut is the sauce - it's just tomato paste without any extra flavour - not even some oregano.

I got the Veggie Pizza Mia - it's supposed to have mushrooms, sundried tomato & capsicum, but mine didn't have any sundried tomato which was disappointing. I took away the cheese & added pineapple & olives. This is another gripe I have - why do I get charged for adding pineapple & olives, even though I took away the cheese? Surely I should at least get one extra topping for free when I'm saving them on such a significant ingredient! Oh well, I chose not to say anything last night, so I guess I should stop whinging :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Le Chien again

Today is D's birthday so he got to choose the breakfast venue. He loves our 'Seddon breakfasts', so I wasn't surprised by his choice. This was our third visit to Le Chien since I started blogging regularly. You can read about the first & second visits.

I got my regular 'Lots of Avocado & Tomato on Sourdough' (no butter), but this time I remembered to take a photo!Although I've previously said I get sick of this dish, I was so in the mood for it this morning (I think it was the beautiful sunny morning - sun always makes me feel like avocado). It makes me happy that they serve it with lemon - I LOVE lemon & have it with pretty much every meal. D went with the scrambled eggs with chilli, plus tomato & avocado as a side.

As previously reported, I love Le Chien - it's got the best coffee in the west (by far), plus a great atmosphere & great service. The vegan breakfast options are limited to the avocado, beans or the toast with sides varieties, but sometimes it's more important to have a consistently good local cafe.

Watch this space for a review of the coffee options in my new work locale - Altona!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corn & Pea Turnovers

This is a simple recipe I made earlier in the week - it's not all that exciting, but I pretty much love anything made with pastry, so I was still very happy :-) I can't remember where the recipe came from - possibly a magazine...

Corn & Pea Turnovers
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 200g mixed frozen corn & peas
  • 1/2 cup hommus
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Preheat the oven to 200C & line a baking sheet. Heat a little oil in a frypan & cook the onion & garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add the tomato & cook 1min. Add the corns & peas & stir until just thawed. Remove from the heat & set aside.

Cut the pastry sheets into 4 squares. Spread each square with a little hommus in the middle, then pile some of the corn/pea mix on top. Fold 2 opposite corners of the square together & squeeze to seal, then repeat with the remaining 2 sides. Squeeze along the sides to seal. Bake 15-20mins until golden brown.As you can see, some of mine came apart because I tried to put too much filling in them. I'd also recommend using a small onion as I used a large one & it was a little too much. Feel free to add herbs & spices too - salt, pepper obviously, or a little cumin, coriander or even curry powder would work nicely.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The weekly lunches

I combined D's weekly lunch & dinner last night by making some Spicy Black Bean Burgers from The Vegan Table. These are quite tasty - even though I did go very easy on the chilli (I'm not a fan of hot food). I also didn't have any red capsicum, so substituted half a tomato instead. The mix is quite soft & can fall apart easily, so you'll need to be gentle. This is another recipe where you shouldn't skimp on the flour/polenta coating - it really makes them easier to handle.And my lunch this week? A quinoa stew - pretty much like this one, with carrots, celery, tomato, corn & chickpeas. I also used red quinoa - I much prefer it to the white variety - it has a nuttier flavour

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Strawberry Coconut Bread

I bought a really big punnet of cheap strawberries from the market on Saturday - turns out they were cheap because most of them were bruised or on their way out. So I decided to make this bread - I've made it a few times in the past & it's super easy & pretty hard to stuff up. I don't know where the recipe came from, so apologies if I'm stealing anyone's idea. To intensify the strawberry flavour, you could serve this this with some fresh strawberries or even a strawberry coulis. Cashew cream would also work well.Strawberry Coconut Bread
  • 1 punnet strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi-carb soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 egg replacers, lightly beaten (I use No-Egg)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil (I use half oil, half applesauce)
  • 3/4 cup cup buttermilk (just add about 1/4 tsp of white vinegar to soy milk)
Preheat the oven to 180C & grease or line the base of a loaf tin.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender. Sift the flour, soda & salt into a large bowl. Stir through the sugar & coconut. In a separate bowl mix together the egg replacers, essence, oil & milk.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & add the wet ingredients. Mix until it just comes together. Fold through the strawberries - stir only 2 or 3 times - you want the swirly pattern to stay.

Pour into loaf tin & bake 50-60mins until golden brown & a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar to serve (can be served warm or cold).

I also added a mashed banana to the mix because I had an over-ripe one, but the flavour of the banana does tend to overwhelm everything else.

Slow Down, St Kilda

We headed across town this morning with the intention of visiting Galleon for breakfast (I LOVE their scrambled tofu). Unfortunately we got there around 10.30, which is too late for a Sunday - there were already people lined up down the street waiting for a table. I was disappointed, but thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try Slow Down! again. We first visited over a year ago & I remembered getting a delicious stuffed capsicum dish & was sure I saw other vegan options on the menu.

Unfortunately, the menu has changed, and none of the vegan dishes I remembered have made it onto the new one. The philosophy of this cafe is organic, local, sustainable & ethical. I think it's kind of funny that the majority of dishes on the menu at an 'ethical' cafe are based on meat & the remaining few are dairy or egg-centric. Anyway, we had already sat down & the atmosphere inside is great, plus they have good coffee & attentive service; so we decided to try & make the best of it.

I chose the Avocado & Lime on Rye Toast (minus the feta). Not what I felt like at all, but it was the only meal on the menu I could veganise - there wasn't even the normal 'toast with sides' option. D opted for the scrambled eggs with cheese. The coffees came out quickly, but the food took a while. I didn't mind too much this morning though - as I mentioned, this place has a great atmosphere - I think it would make a perfect dinner venue, if only the menu was more vegan-friendly :-(When the meals arrived I was pretty disappointed - you probably can't tell from the photo, but mine was tiny! And the toast was cold & tasted quite stale (which I think was a result of my meal sitting on the servery for about 10mins while they waited for D's eggs to cook). D didn't like his eggs either - he said they tasted like macaroni cheese. To top things off, when we got the bill, I noticed they had charged me 90c extra for soy milk! Way way way over the top!

In summary, I don't recommend Slow Down! for vegans but vegetarians will find something to eat, even if they won't have much choice. The atmosphere & service are both great, but the organic menu means the prices are higher than other places in the area.

Slow Down!
56 Acland St, St Kilda
Breakfast from 8am every day; Dinner Wed-Sat from 5pm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A delicious pumpkin curry

I figured I may as well go for the trifecta with my new favourite cookbook - The Vegan Table. I had a pumpkin to use, so I flicked to the index & the first thing I saw was the Pumpkin Curry - perfect! This is basically a pumpkin dhal & it's delicious! The ginger adds a lovely freshness while the coconut gives it a slight sweetness. It would be perfect with some fresh coriander, so I'm looking forward to trying it again in the warmer weather when I'll have some on hand.D doesn't like pumpkin & hates rice, so I compromised & we got a couple of naan breads from our local Indian takeaway to scoop up the curry.And here's a random photo of my breakfast this morning - a cheezly & tomato toastie with wholegrain mustard - yum!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On a roll with Patrick-Goudreau

Sticking with my pledge to make sure every meal I make uses the veges from the delivery box, I made another meal from The Vegan Table last night. This time it was the Spinach & Tofu Lasagne. I didn't have any lasagne sheets in the house, so made cannelloni instead & I also substituted fresh Chard for frozen spinach (I just wilted it first) & it tasted fantastic! The tofu 'ricotta' is such a simple recipe that tastes amazing - I have a feeling that it would work really well in spinach & 'ricotta' pasties as well.

The recipe calls for 4-6 cups of tomato sauce or passata, so I made up a sauce using another recipe in the book - Basic Tomato Sauce. I left out the carrot & celery & substituted red wine for the balsamic vinegar. The result was a deliciously rich tomato base for the Cannelloni. I was going to grate some cheezly over the top, but was too lazy, so just sprinkled a little Nutritional Yeast over about half-way through baking instead.My only tip would be that if, like me, you end up with 2 layers of cannelloni tubes, make sure you spread a little sauce in between the layers. The sauce will help to cook (i.e. soften) the dry pasta. Unfortunately I didn't do this last night, so the bottom layer of tubes were a little tougher than the top :-)

Creamy polenta

For my birthday I got a cookbook from my favourite cookbook author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Her (relatively) new book is The Vegan Table, and the recipes in this are just as simple & yummy as in her previous effort, The Joy of Vegan Baking. The only thing I don't like about it is the structure - it's organised into seasonal dinner party menus, rather than by type. This makes it hard to quickly flick through if you're just trying to find a recipe for a soup or a main course.

Anyway, after reading this post earlier in the week I decided the Creamy Polenta & Mushrooms dish would be the perfect way to use up the rest of the mushrooms in my fridge.It didn't disappoint. I substituted a couple of things (I didn't have any balsamic vinegar, so used a tiny bit of cider vinegar and I also used rosemary instead of the other herbs listed in the recipe). As the Veganator pointed out, you need to work quickly with this one to prevent the polenta getting too gluggy, but all that means is that you will get to enjoy your dinner that much sooner!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Purple Pies

OK, so the pies weren't purple. But the side dishes I served with the pies were VERY purple. When I decided to make 2 purple sides I thought it would look cool, but they ended up looking kind of strange (& D was very suspicious). Of course, as we all know, colour doesn't affect taste!I finally got around to making Cindy's I-can't-believe-it's-not-meat pies. My gravy was a mix of Massel 'beef' stock & red wine, with extra flavouring added by vegan worcestershire sauce & black pepper. It didn't thicken up much (even when I added extra cornflour), so next time I'll probably use slightly less than the 2 cups of liquid. I also used about double the quantity of mushrooms because I have a whole bag of them in the fridge that need to get used.

I served the pies with a purple cauliflower mash - which ended up looking kind of grey because most of the lovely purple colour seeped into the cooking water. It was still delicious though - I just mashed it with a dash of the cooking water, olive oil, some salt & pepper. Next to the mash is steamed purple cabbage - mixed with olive oil, salt & pepper - yum!

The verdict? A delicious, pretty simple dinner. Next time I'll probably follow Cindy's suggestion & make a cheat's gravy with powder :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beany goodness

I know it's still freezing cold in Melbourne, but I'm getting sick of stews, so decided to make something a bit different for lunch next week. I've been eyeing off this recipe for Bigilla for a while so thought I'd make some Hummus to go with it.That's the hummus in the front - in my opinion it's the best dip ever invented. No wonder it's been around for so long. The bigilla is in the back - I didn't have any fresh parsley on hand so substituted with fresh rosemary - delicious!Along with carrot & celery sticks these dips make the perfect healthy lunch!Because I was away last weekend my schedule was all mucked up, so I got my veg delivery on Friday instead. A good selection this week:
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Leek
  • Purple cauliflower (I'd like to make a cool purple mash with this)
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Rosemary